University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository

University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository


Physician Assistant Education


Professor Laura Witte, PA-C, DFAAPA



Purpose: Students often endorse ineffective study approaches and lack awareness of metacognitive principles in physician assistant (PA) and healthcare programs. Increasing awareness of most evidence-based and effective study approaches will help both faculty and students improve educational outcomes in a rigorous curriculum. The purpose of this article is to explore best evidence-based approaches in Physician Assistant education and metacognition understanding, contrasted with poorer study approaches still employed by many healthcare students, with the goal to create more effective instruction, improved metacognitive strategies and self-assessment skills, and lifelong medical learners.

Method: A PubMed literature search was conducted with search terms metacognition, evidence-based healthcare education, effective and ineffective learning/teaching strategies in healthcare education. Twenty-eight articles were found that appear suitable for review.

Results: Although there is ample research into the best approaches to instruction and acquisition of knowledge in healthcare programs, students often are unaware of, or fail to make use of, best approaches to studying for most effective long-term learning and knowledge retention. These strategies include, but are not limited to: metacognition awareness and development, periodic practice/spaced learning, interleaving, and practice testing. Additionally, there is plentiful data to support discouraging students from practices such as cramming, re-reading text, highlighting/underlining and failing to return to previously studied topics.

Conclusion: Medical instructors and faculty should incorporate principles of metacognition and best evidence-based instruction and learning approaches to ensure students are successful in their medical curriculum, and effective lifelong learners.


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